Baseball mourns the loss of ex-Sox skipper Jim Fregosi
BY TONI GINNETTI Staff Reporter February 14, 2014 9:28PM
Chicago White Sox manager Jim Fregosi, left, throws up his hands in despair after arguing fruitlessly for some time with home plate umpire Greg Kosc at Yankee Stadium, center, Friday, July 11, 1987, New York. Fregosi maintained that Gary Redus would have scored on a Harold Baines double whether or not a fan had interfered with the ball, but Kosc sent Redus back to third base in the first inning. The Yankees won 9-5. (AP Photo/Lou Reguena)
Updated: February 15, 2014 2:13AM
Jim Fregosi’s skills made him a major-league shortstop at 19 and a six-time All-Star during his 18-year playing career.
His knowledge of the game helped him manage four teams — including the White Sox — and he was a senior adviser for the Braves for the last 14 years.
But his personality made him one of the game’s most respected men — and one of the most loved.
‘‘There is not a baseball organization at work today that doesn’t reflect on what’s it going to be like here in spring training or during the season when we don’t see Jimmy sitting in the press room or on the bench or being around a batting cage with his arms folded across his chest, telling stories and regaling everybody about the wonders of baseball and the joy of baseball and how much he loved it,” Braves president John Schuerholz said Friday. “We’re going to miss that.’’
Fregosi, 71, died Friday, six days after suffering a series of strokes that began while he was on an MLB alumni cruise in the Caribbean. He had been airlifted from the Cayman Islands to Miami on Wednesday after doctors stabilized his condition. But his condition worsened, and he was taken off life-support systems late Thursday.
At his bedside were his wife, Joni, and five children, including son Jim Jr., a special assistant to Royals general manager Dayton Moore.
‘‘All of Jim’s friends at the White Sox were stunned and saddened at the news of his stroke and death,” the Sox said in a statement. “Jim was your classic baseball lifer, with the experiences and stories to match a career devoted to the game. He will be missed at the ballpark this spring, and our thoughts go out to all of his friends and family.”
Fregosi took over the Sox in 1986 after Tony La Russa’s firing and managed the team through 1988.
He was 193-226 as the Sox’ skipper and 1,028-1,094 in 15 years as a manager. Yet he was revered for his knowledge and beloved for his passion and generosity.
‘‘He was so smart and knew the game so well,’’ Schuerholz said. ‘‘He was a remarkable man and a dear friend. He didn’t grow into this personality. I think he was born with it.’’
“He had such a wealth of knowledge and was such a positive force,’’ Braves general manager Frank Wren said. ‘‘He scouted all 30 teams for us. He had great knowledge of putting teams together. He was one of those guys you called and then you felt uplifted and encouraged.”
Fregosi played for the Angels his first 11 seasons. He was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame, and his No. 11 was retired in 1998.
‘‘We all take it hard,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He not only put our organization on the map with the [division] championship in ’79, but planted a lot of seeds that are still alive and well in our organization about the way the game should be played. He’s a great baseball man and an even better person. We’re definitely gonna miss him.”